Environmental perceptions of rural South African residents: The complex nature of environmental concern

Institute of Behavioral Science, Program on Environment and Society, Department of Sociology, University of Colorado at Boulder.
Society and Natural Resources (Impact Factor: 1.09). 06/2010; 23(6):525-541. DOI: 10.1080/08941920903357782
Source: PubMed


The state of the local environment shapes the well-being of millions of rural residents in developing nations. Still, we know little of these individuals' environmental perceptions. This study analyzes survey data collected in an impoverished, rural region in northeast South Africa, to understand the factors that shape concern with local environmental issues. We use the "post-materialist thesis" to explore the different explanations for environmental concern in less developed regions of the world, with results revealing the importance of both cultural and physical context. In particular, gendered interaction with natural resources shapes perceptions, as does the local setting. Both theoretical and policy implications are discussed.

Download full-text


Available from: Wayne Twine, Aug 24, 2015
  • Source
    • "It is, however, worth noting that qualitative studies are not foolproof in achieving such ends, and there are a number of studies that raise potential cautions with respect to interviewees’ perceptions of environmental risks, selectivity in assigning migration causality, and other methodological challenges (e.g. Barbier et al. 2009; Hunter et al. 2010; van der Geest 2010). Eleven of the studies employ a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods, examples of the latter typically being surveys and simple statistical analyses. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This paper presents the findings of a systematic review of scholarly publications that report empirical findings from studies of environmentally-related international migration. There exists a small, but growing accumulation of empirical studies that consider environmentally-linked migration that spans international borders. These studies provide useful evidence for scholars and policymakers in understanding how environmental factors interact with political, economic and social factors to influence migration behavior and outcomes that are specific to international movements of people, in highlighting promising future research directions, and in raising important considerations for international policymaking. Our review identifies countries of migrant origin and destination that have so far been the subject of empirical research, the environmental factors believed to have influenced these migrations, the interactions of environmental and non-environmental factors as well as the role of context in influencing migration behavior, and the types of methods used by researchers. In reporting our findings, we identify the strengths and challenges associated with the main empirical approaches, highlight significant gaps and future opportunities for empirical work, and contribute to advancing understanding of environmental influences on international migration more generally. Specifically, we propose an exploratory framework to take into account the role of context in shaping environmental migration across borders, including the dynamic and complex interactions between environmental and non-environmental factors at a range of scales. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11111-014-0210-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
    Population and Environment 09/2014; 36(1):111-135. DOI:10.1007/s11111-014-0210-7 · 1.46 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Among sub-Saharan African societies, social-scientific assessments of the more proximate psychological predictors of environmental behavior, such as attitudes and concern, have found marked patterns in social dispositions. Contrary to popular arguments concerning the negative influence of austere socioeconomic circumstances on pro-environmentalism in low-income traditional societies (Van Liere and Dunlap 1980; Inglehart 1995), multi-national surveys have recorded high levels of environmental concern and activism in sub-Saharan Africa (Dunlap 1994; White and Hunter 2009; Hunter et al. 2010). Phenomena such as floods, droughts, erosion, and pollution are critical public concerns in Nigeria (Egunjobi 1993), and researchers have argued that positive environmental values, including an inclination toward nature preservation, are inherent in the traditions and culture of Nigerian society (Adeola 1996, 1998; Ogungbemi 1997). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Given the significance of human behavior as a major driver of most environmental problems, it is generally agreed that efforts to promote global ecological and economic sustainability must now include attempts to understand public perceptions of, and attitudes toward, environmental issues. Research findings generally indicate that attitudes are important determinants of ecological behaviors, and over time, scientists have strived to develop sound measurement instruments for studying public environmental attitudes. Of these attitude measures, the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) scale stands out as being the most widely accepted with documented validity and reliability. In this study, the NEP scale was used to examine environmental attitudes among 355 university students in Ibadan, Nigeria. Overall, the Nigerian students were found to have a lower endorsement of the pro-ecological ideologies included in the NEP compared with similar samples from other cultural contexts. However, a strong consensus was observed among the sample on the fragility of nature’s balance and possibility of eco-crisis facets of the NEP. The findings of the study are discussed in the context of relevant Nigerian social and cultural factors, and recommendations for future research are provided.
    Environment Development and Sustainability 03/2013; 15:1477-1494. DOI:10.1007/s10668-013-9446-0
  • Source
    • "Gosken and his colleagues (2002) reported the capacity to differentiate among environmental issues in their study in Turkey of the effects of the geographical proximity of an environmental problem on environmental attitudes and a willingness to pay to deal with that condition. Hunter and her associates (2009, 20) noted in their study of environmental perceptions of rural South Africans that among people and communities around the world " there may actually be more commonality than differences with regard to social and environmental concerns " . An additional factor, and one which has special relevance to South Africa, is that of race and ethnicity. "

Show more